After more than 20 years at the cutting edge of creative music, pianist Myra Melford is still pushing boundaries and her music continues to move in new directions. Not only is she leading her own bands, including the critically acclaimed sextet, Be Bread, but she is also exploring the use of new technologies in performance, and working with an ever-widening circle of improvisers in collaborative groups. At 54, Melford is busier than ever and working at a creative peak that promises to keep her at the forefront of new music.
This year, one of the most celebrated of the collective groups she participates in, Trio M, will release a follow up album to their 2007 debut recording Big Picture (Cryptogramaphone) and tour extensively in the US and Europe. The all-star trio, featuring bassist Mark Dresser and drummer Matt Wilson, is “not only one of the most virtuosic playing today, but one of the most consistently engrossing,” according to Derk Richardson in The Absolute Sound. A sort of new music Non-Standards Trio, they play with “with a loving commitment to the jazz avant-garde, especially as it was expressed in the 1970s, a sort of frontier era,” says Nate Chinen in the New York Times. They will start their crowded 2011 schedule at the Bay Area’s legendary jazz venue, Yoshi’s, and an appearance at the Brubeck Festival in late March. Soon after that, they head into the studio to record their sophomore effort that will be released in the fall by the venerable Enja label as part of its 40th anniversary celebration. A weeklong tour of Europe in May and a North American tour in the fall in support of the new disc are also in the works.
Younger musicians just launching their careers are increasingly tapping Melford’s creativity and experience for exciting new cooperative groups that are establishing the sound of a new generation of composer-improvisers. As a veteran leader of some of the most innovative new jazz ensembles of the past 20 years, including The Same River, Twice; Crush; Be Bread; and Happy Whistlings, Melford brings maturity and an active desire to grow and innovate to all these bands. She is working in more cooperative bands—including both younger players and longtime cohorts—than at any other time in her career.
In the first half of 2011 alone, Melford’s activities with these groups include:
• Promised Land. A trio with guitarist Brandon Ross and bassist Stomu Takeishi toured the east-coast in January.
• Myra Melford–Ben Goldberg duo. An ongoing duo project with clarinetist Goldberg made appearances in the Bay Area in February.
• Afterlife Music Radio. A genre-bending quartet with live electronics with clarinetist Ben Goldberg, drummer/guitarist Shahzad Ismaily, and laptop artist Mathias Delplanque appears at the Banlieues Bleues Festival on March 23.
• Allison Miller’s Boom Tic Boom. Drummer Allison Miller makes her European debut as a leader of this quartet featuring Melford and bassist Todd Sickafoose, with special guest Jenny Schienman. The end-of-summer tour includes an appearance at the Willisau Festival. Miller’s group made its recording debut in 2010 with Boom Tic Boom (Foxhaven).
• Big Air. This trans-Atlantic quintet led by Chris Batchelor and Steve Buckley, along with Oren Marshall, and Jim Black performs at the Cheltenham Festival and in London in early May. Their 2009 self-titled CD was greeted with critical praise on both sides of the Atlantic. Writing in AllAboutJazz, Chris May called it “an exhilarating, visceral blend of free jazz, post-bop and messy funk, with electronic flourishes and a little cod mariachi thrown in for good measure.”
While Melford remains active in bricks-and-mortar venues, she is also establishing a virtual presence. Another of her cooperative ventures, this one with bassist Dresser and trombonist Michael Dessen, performs what they call telematic, multi-site, networked performances between UC Berkeley, UC San Diego, and UC Irvine. These events incorporate video and live music played at more than one location into online multimedia events. Their ongoing exploration of online performance technology continues with two events on April 16 and 17 linking performers at UC Irvine and UC San Diego and another on April 27 linking UC San Diego and UC Berkeley. Melford’s developing interest in new music technologies also includes cutting edge amplification of sounds made on the inside of the piano, which she is investigating to enlarge her piano vocabulary.
Between her teaching duties a UC Berkeley and her multiple gigs in cooperative groups, Melford continues to develop her own music. Look for an increased focus on her solo piano playing this year, along with performances by Be Bread, praised by Josef Woodard in JazzTimes as “an enticing fusion of free elements, tonalities and meters borrowed from other cultures, and post-jazz musings.” Their most recent album, The Whole Tree Gone (Firehouse 12) made many Top 10 lists last year. Other surprises may be in store as well, including a large ensemble project, Portable World, incorporating musicians and instruments from different cultures that she is just beginning to conceptualize and compose for.
Melford’s generosity of spirit has made her an ideal partner in cooperative groups. And her ability to fearlessly push herself and her music has kept her music fresh and inspiring. Now as an artist whose maturity and assurance leads her from one strength to another, Melford seems poised for even greater things. The year 2011 may well set a new high water mark for Melford in a decades-long career that’s already seen some very high creative peaks.
MYRA MELFORD UPCOMING PERFORMANCES:
Mar 23 Afterlife Music Radio Banlieues Bleues Paris, France
Mar 25 Afterlife Music Radio AJMI Avignon, France
March 30 Trio M Yoshi’s Oakland, CA
March 31 Trio M Brubeck Festival Stockton, CA
April 6 – 8 Teaching University of Evora Evora, Portugal
April 7: Concert Opera House Evora, Portugal
with Eduardo Lopes and faculty of the University of Evora
April 8 Concert Lisbon, Portugal
with Eduardo Lopes and faculty of the University of Evora
April 9 Solo piano concert Lisbon, Portugal
April 10 Solo piano concert ACERT Tondela, Portugal
April 16 & 17 Telematic Networked Performance between UC San Diego and UC Irvine
with Mark Dresser and Michael Dessen (with scenic design by Victoria Petrovich and video by John Crawford)
April 21 Concert, Center for New Music and Audio Technologies UC Berkeley
with Sabina Meyer and Elio Martusciello (from Italy) with Nils Bultman, Heather Frasch and Jason Levis (graduate composers)
April 27 Telematic Networked Performance between UC Berkeley & UC San Diego
with Mark Dresser and Michael Dessen with video by Yotam Mann and Mike Gough.
May 1 Big Air Cheltenham Festival UK
May 2 Big Air Vortex London, UK
May 4 Trio M Bielefeld, Germany
May 5 Trio M Singen, Germany
May 7 Trio M Vienna, Austria
May 8 Trio M Amsterdam, Netherlands
May 11 Trio M Berlin, Germany
May 25 Steven Lugerner CD release concert Royal T Culver City, CA
May 26 Steven Lugerner CD release concert Red Poppy Art House SF, CA
May 29 – June 5 Teaching Banff International Workshop in Jazz and Creative Music, directed by Dave Douglas
June 4 Faculty Concert Banff Centre Banff, Canada
with Dave Douglas, Brandon Ross, Steve Lehman, Jerry Granelli and Anthony Cox
June 9 Be Bread Sextet Discover Jazz Festival Burlington, VT
June 12 Sarah Wilson’s Trapeze Project Cornelia Street Café NYC
July 2 with Kenny Wheeler Ottawa Jazz Festival Ottawa
Kenny Wheeler, Myra Melford, Jon Irabagon and Diana Torto
July 3 Trio M Toronto Jazz Festival Toronto
July 7 – Aug 10 Ragdale Artist Residency (awarded through the Alpert Award in the Arts) Lake Forest, IL
August 27 Allison Miller’s Boom Tic Boom Willisau Jazz Festival Switzerland
(with Myra Melford, Todd Sickafoose and Jenny Scheinman)
Sept 2 & 3 Ben Goldberg Large Ensemble Project Jewish Community Center Berkeley, CA
Oct 7 Trio concert w. Nicole Mitchell / Tomeka Reid Mills College Oakland, CA
Oct 9 Double Bill with the Roscoe Mitchell Trio Angel City Jazz Festival LA, CA
Alex Cline performs the music of Roscoe Mitchell: “People in Sorrow”
October 2011 | Trio M Record Release on Enja
..:: SOURCE: BKMusic PR ::..